Mary Sings to Jesus, by Mike Moyers, Digital Illustration For Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary
By Ascension Press © Mike Moyers 2019

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans‬ 12‬:1‬-2‬ ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Not too long ago, I found myself happily committing to a task for someone I care about. I knew it would take me ages to complete, and though I was paid, it wasn’t really for the money. I was happy because my friend was happy. However, weeks into the project, not even halfway through, I found myself grumbling. Shamefully, more than once. The turning point came when I heard the soft yet strong voice of Holy Spirit, questioning, “Wait a minute now, why did you start this to begin with?”
“To make my friend happy,” I replied.
“Then why are you complaining about the details? You knew the cost, calculated it, and still chose to give the gift of your time.”

I fell silent internally, and my mouth clamped shut. I repented for my attitude and my words spoken and the ones I had selfishly thought but not yet spoken. Holy Spirit was, of course, right. I had lost joy in my giving.
When I held my first child in my arms, he was only a few months old at Christmas time, and I found myself wondering, as I have many times since if Mary ever lost joy in her giving.

Reflecting on moments of giving, I thought about Mary, who carried a life and surrendered herself entirely, her whole person. And her commitment wasn’t just from 9 am to 5 pm. And it wasn’t only for the waking hours. No, her commitment was a 24/7 “yes” for 9 months. That’s 280 days!

I wonder if, during any of her many restless pregnant nights, when she had to get up to pee, again, did she wonder if all of this was worth it. Did she stop mid-task, stretch her strained back, wipe away the abundance of sweat in the most uncomfortable places, and think, “How much longer?” Did she groan with pain in the work of bringing our Lord into the world and think, “Why did I say yes?!”
As lovers of Jesus, we may enthusiastically say “yes” to the Lord, knowing the cost, but harbor regret and a desire to repent (go another direction) when we find ourselves groaning from the actual labor we committed to. Maybe Mary was better than me. I like to think so. And since the Word doesn’t mention it either way, we can reasonably conclude Mary maintained her joy, trusting God would honor her for her gift, even when tired or sore.

For Mary to maintain her joy, she must have keyed into the wisdom of God’s Word: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing, you (we) may discern what is the will of God—what is good, acceptable, and perfect.” His good and perfect will doesn’t always come through easy avenues. Rather, it is achieved through rough terrain and requires us to harness both mind and body to focus on His ways and not our own. This calls for the constant renewal of our thoughts and the attitude of our hearts, allowing us to experience His joy when we find ourselves within His good and perfect will.
Mary’s “yes” symbolized a profound gift—she offered her body as a home for our Savior. Every ounce of her time, energy, and being was devoted to bringing Immanuel, God with us, into our lives. What an extraordinary gift!

Celebrating Christmas can, and in our culture often does, turn into a chore. While some commitments may serve as enjoyable distractions, a handful encapsulate the true spirit of Christmas. In the coming month, a multitude of opportunities will arise for us to give gifts and dedicate ourselves to a plethora of worthy causes and joyful occasions. It may be having that lonely neighbor over for a Christmas feast or stopping to take care of a person you see in need. You may be late and rushing off to Christmas Eve service and see a family with a flat or in need of a battery boost.

Brothers and sisters, if you come to your wit’s end or find yourself weary and achy, it’s crucial to remember, even in fatigue, to present your body, renew your mind, and experience the joy and gift of aligning with God’s good and perfect will.